SBJ/February 2 - 8, 2004/Facilities

Packages at new San Juan arena selling well for SMG

The Coliseo De Puerto Rico, which will seat 18,000, is scheduled to open in May.

SMG ultimately could generate more than $8 million in annual revenue from selling all premium seating and sponsorships at the new $135 million Coliseo De Puerto Rico.

The federally owned 18,000-seat arena will book sporting events such as pro boxing and NBA and NHL preseason games and bid for Olympic qualifying competitions, said Bob Rice, the facility's general manager. The arena, in San Juan, is to open May 17.

Rice said SMG already has confirmed at least $6 million in annual revenue from selling 18 of the 22 luxury suites, club seating and eight sponsorships ranging from $300,000 to $900,000 a year.

Each of the sponsors, whose names Rice could not release as of press time, signed five-year contracts, which will result in $4.8 million in yearly revenue.

"We only went to market with eight sponsorship packages to keep the building aesthetically clean," he said. "None of the names will surprise you. I won't say they are all U.S.-based companies, but it's close to that."

The traditional suites sell for $125,000 annually with three-year terms. Local corporations have acquired or committed to 18 of the 19 units. The Puerto Rican government owns one traditional suite and one of two 40-person party suites. The other is reserved for individual events.

Officials have not determined the cost to rent the party suites. Rice said that price tag, which may not include food and beverage, could range from $6,000 for an NBA preseason game to $12,000 for a title fight featuring a Puerto Rican native such as Felix Trinidad.

"The market is so lucrative down here," Rice said. "Premium seating is a totally new concept. The response to the suites are what was most surprising to us. ... The corporate and high-end clients can clearly see the impact of entertaining their customers. ... This building will be incredibly successful. It is the place to be."

The fact that other sports and entertainment facilities in Puerto Rico are outdated also helped sell the facility, he noted. "The venues existing before this are 30 years old and small. When people walk in here, they literally can't believe it. It's like the Ritz-Carlton to them."

The arena has two-thirds of the 1,000 club seats remaining to sell at $1,000 a year for three- and five-year terms, but Rice is "extremely confident" that the remaining inventory will be sold before the facility opens. Unlike the suites, club seats do not include event tickets. The building is targeting 80 events for the first year of operation.

"We just ramped up the club-seat campaign," said Rice, who opened the St. Pete Times Forum in Tampa in 1996, when it was known as the Ice Palace. He has been with SMG since 1987.

HOK Sport designed the arena with local architect Sierra Cardona Ferrer. Omega Construction, another local firm, built the facility.

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